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Mesa County court system is experiencing an increase in backlogged court cases

AN increase in mistrials causes a rise in cases added to the court's backlog.
AN increase in mistrials causes a rise in cases added to the court's backlog.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:25 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) -The number of backlogged court cases has risen after judges are forced to declare mistrials because the court was unable to seat a jury.

“In Colorado the way speedy trial works is from the date you enter a not guilty plea we have to get you into trial in 6 months,” said District Attorney Dan Rubinstein. “There are certain things that can extend that period of time, such as a mistrial. So, what we had been doing was we’d show up the morning of trial, we couldn’t call in a jury, so the judge would call it a mistrial.”

When this happens, there is a three month extension for a speedy trial. This can happen more than one time.

The Mesa County Justice Center is back to having in-court appearances and the First Appearance center is also open.

Now the court system is focusing on catching up on the cases backlogged. However, there are too many cases.

District Attorney Dan Rubinstein says they don’t have the resources to try all the cases at one time.

“We have this huge backlog of trials but we don’t have enough courtrooms and enough judges to get them all to trial at the same time,” said Rubinstein. “The legislature did pass a statute that allows us to extend speedy trial even though we’re no longer in the pandemic but as a result of backlogs caused by the pandemic.”

Rubinstein says jurors are no longer hesitant to go to court so now the biggest issue is tackling the backlog of cases. He also said the number of active covid cases in Mesa County is not affecting trials.

Since the Mesa County District Attorney’s office has reopened it has completed two murder trials.

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